Supreme Court confirms that current Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful

Supreme Court confirms that current Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful

Wednesday 26th July 2017

The Supreme Court has allowed Unison's appeal, holding that the current system of Employment Tribunal fees is unlawful.

Does this mean that it will now be free for employees to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim?

It is unknown what will happen next but it seems unlikely that fees will be abolished completely, though they may be reduced.

How might this impact on employers?

The introduction of fees led to a huge drop in the number of claims being presented to the Employment Tribunal. If fees are abolished or reduced, it seems likely that the number of claims will rise. This may mean that employers are more likely to face claims in future.

Employment Tribunals have some discretion about whether to allow claims to be accepted outside of the relevant time limits. It remains to be seen whether Employment Tribunals will allow claims out of time on the basis of an argument that the fee system deterred an individual from bringing a claim earlier, within the time limits. As such, employers are likely to face greater uncertainty about when they can consider themselves "safe" from a claim.

Should employers take any immediate action?

It is very early days and it will undoubtedly be some time before there is clarity about what will happen regarding fees. However, it would be wise for employers who are risk assessing particular courses of action to factor in the possibility that bringing an Employment Tribunal claim may now be a more attractive option for employees. Also, employers may wish to budget for any potential increase in claims in terms of legal fees, potential compensation awards and HR/management time.

About me

Before setting up my HR consultancy and workplace mediation business, I was a HR/employment lawyer. I have over 15 years' experience of working in partnership with and supporting HR professionals, managers and others in relation to a range of legal, HR and learning and development challenges. I work with clients in a variety of sectors.

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